I don't think video calls will ever fully replace regular phone calls, but there are indeed times when it's nice to see a face at the other end. And all you need to make that happen is a program like Skype and a Webcam.
If you're not happy with the low-resolution Webcam that came with your laptop or your computer just doesn't have one, here's a deal you're sure to like: Today only, Cowboom has a Creative Live Cam VF0415 1.3-megapixel Webcam for $4.99, plus $5 for shipping.
Unlike a lot of Cowboom stuff, this is new, not refurbished. Thus, it comes with a full one-year warranty.
The Live Cam can capture video at 1.3 megapixels at up to 30 frames per second and still photos at 5 megapixels (though in my experience, most Webcams take terrible snapshots, regardless of resolution).
It features a built-in noise-canceling microphone, various image-enhancing technologies, and even face-tracking software that follows you as you move.
It's compatible with
Windows 7 and works with all manner of messaging programs, from AOL to Skype to Yahoo.
I don't have any hands-on experience with this exact model, but I've used other Creative Live Cams in the past--and they worked quite nicely. And, hey, it's 10 bucks! Consequently, it may sell out quickly, as Cowboom deals often do.
Update: Son of a...sorry, everyone, but it's already sold out. Curse you, Cowboom! Well, here some worthy alternatives: Buy.com has a 1.3-megapixel Webcam with LEDs for $11.97 shipped. And CompUSA has the 1.3-megapixel Logitech C250 for $14.99 (plus $2 for shipping).
Bonus deal: Mercury Magazines is offering a free one-year subscription to PC World in exchange for filling out a short business-related survey. (Nepotism alert: I'm a columnist for the magazine.) I'm not sure how many freebies they have available (deals like this often expire quickly), so if you want in, get clicking!